TBL web desk
Shah Mahmood Qureshi-the Foreign Minister of Pakistan said on Monday that Pakistan would not take responsibility if the country was blamed for deteriorating the Afghan peace process.
Qureshi while addressing the inaugural session of the Pak-Afghan Bilateral Dialogue in Islamabad said that Ashraf Ghani, the president of Afghanistan would reportedly be visiting Washington soon along with a core group.
The Foreign Minister of Pakistan said, “I wish them luck and a good visit but let me spell it down in advance. If the objective of going to Washington is starting a new blame game and holding Pakistan responsible for all the ills [in Afghanistan] and the lack of progress in the [peace] process, then it will not help.”
He added, “It is a shared responsibility and nobody is going to buy it anymore that if things go wrong [then] Pakistan is responsible. We will not take responsibility.”
He further said that in building the peace process in Afghanistan, Pakistan was “honest and sincere”. “We have been accused enough”, added Qureshi.
The Foreign Minister of Pakistan said that to decide the way forward for Afghanistan and to find people capable of that was up to Afghans.
He said, “Afghanistan needs leadership that can negotiate a successful outcome [and] that can transit this country into peace and is not worried about perpetuation [and] hanging on to power.”
He emphasized that Pakistan wanted to partner with Afghanistan, the region, and the US to counter-terrorism, adding that Pakistan had “paid a price” in loss of lives, troops martyred, mosques bombed, and economical loss.
Qureshi while saying that his vision of the country is based on the values that Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah advocated, added, “I as the elected representative of Pakistan, do not want to see ‘Talibanisation’ of Pakistan. How can I be more clear than that?”
He said that a “very clear decision” to not interfering in the internal matters of Afghanistan has been taken by Pakistan.
He stated, “We have no favourites, there is a general buzz that we are advocates of the Taliban. I am not and I don’t represent them, I represent Pakistan. Taliban are Afghans.”
He added that various leaders from Afghanistan from “every ethnic group” have been invited to Islamabad so that a clear message can be sent that the country wanted to engage with all ethnic communities and leaders “Who matter and are important for peace and reconciliation”.
Qureshi stated, “That is why we have been inviting you and will continue to invite your leadership to achieve our common objective of peace and stability.”
He emphasized that “time is running” and to find a leadership that has the confidence of the Afghans is the need of the hour. He said that Afghan leaders and the Taliban should show some flexibility, adding that if both the parties would continue to stick to their positions then the region would go nowhere.
He said that it had been advocated by Pakistan and Prime Minister Imran Khan that the Afghan conflict cannot be resolved by the military.
He said that because of Prime Minister’s stance he was called “Taliban Khan” by many, but now the world was recognizing and agreeing with his words that negotiated settlement was the only solution.
He added that there was a “new international convergence” on the stance since the world in 20 years had seen that the most “sophisticated armies, weaponry and technology” was unable to bring peace in Afghanistan.
Talking about the acquittal of Pakistan’s stance, the Finance minister said that he had seen a “very positive change” last month while interacting with US legislators.
He stated, “Today in the US we are looking at Pakistan not as part of the problem but part of the solution”, while quoting US Senator Lindsey Graham, greeting it as “paradigm shift in US approach”.
Qureshi repeated that a “blame game” between Pakistan and Afghanistan would be unfruitful and called to put an end to it. He added that one of the hindrances he saw was a lack of intra-Afghan trust and a “trust deficit between Pakistan and Afghanistan.”
He emphasized that there was a need to “forget the past and look at the future”. He said that Pakistan was firmed to building bridges rather than “sowing seeds of dissent”.
He stated, “Trust us when we say that a peaceful and stable Afghanistan is in Pakistan’s interest.”
He said that the statements of the vice president of Afghanistan and national security adviser disappointed him. He further said that the statements which spoiled the climate between Pakistan and Afghanistan went against the spirit of the Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for peace and solidarity.
He also talked about the blames that elements in Pakistan were involved in inciting trouble in Afghanistan through cross-border movement. Finance Minister said that Pakistan was doing “everything possible” for better border management.
He stated, “Hold me accountable when all my Afghan brothers and sisters have honorably returned home, and then if there are movements and there is trouble [in Afghanistan], we will shoulder responsibility.”
He said that the “time has come for an honorable and dignified return of Afghan refugees [back to their] home.”
Qureshi also talked about the role of women in Afghanistan and said that he was proud of the women excelling in various fields in Pakistan also.
He stated, “Twenty years is a long time and reforms have taken place. The Afghanistan of today is not the Afghanistan which was 20 years ago. The role of women in Afghan national life is extremely important.”
He stressed that a new situation in of “complete withdrawal” of US and allied forces from Afghanistan had arisen various concerns such as an increase in violence, deadlock in negotiations, an increase in the inflow of refugees to Pakistan, the expanding footprint of militant outfits and a possibility of civil war in case of no peace settlement.